H-43 Huskie

The first helicopter purchased by the Air Force specifically for airborne fire-fighting and air base crash rescue. The twin intermeshing, counter-rotating rotors made the Huskie very stable in flight, and in fact, the downwash actually helped suppress fires. The Navy first bought the Huskie (designated HOK-1 for the Marines and HUK-1 for the Navy) as a general-purpose helicopter. The Air Force H-43A could carry only four passengers, as it was powered by a 600-hp engine that occupied a large part of the cabin. However, the smaller, roof-mounted turboshaft on the HH-43B freed up much interior space. Deliveries of the HH-43B began in 1959, and the type was used for base crash rescue for all flying commands. An H-43B LBR (Local Base Rescue) crew could become airborne in a minute, taking 30 seconds to get airborne and 30 seconds to pick up the fire-suppression kit (foam and water bottle, nitrogen pressure bottle, and hose), and would often beat the fire trucks to a crash scene. A number of H-43B crews set time-to-climb, altitude, and distance records.

In mid-1964, three units were transferred from the Philippines and Okinawa to Southeast Asia for combat rescue. The 33d Air Rescue Squadron assigned to Nakhon Phanom RTAB, Thailand, was the first to begin combat rescue operations, in June 1964. The HH-43F (nicknamed Pedro) featured 800 pounds of titanium armor plating, an uprated engine, and some carried a flexible-mount .30-cal. machine gun for this expanded mission. Most of the B model aircraft were later brought up to HH-43F standard. After the introduction of the Jolly Green Giants (HH-3s), the HH-43s reverted to air base crash rescue duties. HH-43s were also flown by Burma, Colombia, Morocco, Pakistan, Thailand, and Iran. The last of the USAF HH-43s were retired by the early 1970s.

H-43B Pictures: